Man dies after struggle with police in eastern Kentucky

Jun 2, 2015, 12:36 PM

LOUISA, Ky. (AP) — A man died after a confrontation with officers who used a stun gun on him at a police department in eastern Kentucky, state police said.

Billy J. Collins, 56, became combative at the Louisa Police Department after his arrest Friday on charges of driving on a suspended license, failure to maintain insurance and disorderly conduct, according to a Kentucky State Police statement. He struck Sgt. Steven Wilburn multiple times before fleeing into a foyer, where he barricaded himself, the statement said.

Wilburn called for backup and state police said three more officers from the city police department and the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department responded.

A deputy deployed his stun gun at Collins through a crack in a door, but it was ineffective and Collins removed the probes, state police said. Wilburn was then able to get into the foyer through another door and used his stun gun on Collins. The hit was effective, but police said Collins continued to be combative, which led to a physical confrontation in which officers struck Collins “with closed empty hands” and with agency-issued batons before bringing him under control.

Collins was then restrained and put in a sitting position when he began showing signs of a medical emergency, police said. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Louisa Police Chief Greg A. Fugitt said the department is cooperating fully with the state police investigation, but he declined to answer questions about the incident.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to family and friends of Mr. Collins during this time,” he said.

He referred questions about the case to Kentucky State Police.

State police spokesman Michael Murriell said results of a Saturday autopsy haven’t been released because the medical examiner’s office hasn’t completed a final report. He said further tests were needed and the report would be release when it is finished.

Murriell said Collins had prior medical issues, which are part of the investigation, but he wasn’t sure exactly what those issues were or what type of medical emergency he had after being restrained.

He said there’s no indication of any crime on the part of officers.

“At this time in this stage of the investigation, there is nothing that indicates any criminal actions that occurred on the part of any involved law enforcement officer, but the investigation is still ongoing and we are continuing to investigate every aspect of this case,” Murriell said.

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Man dies after struggle with police in eastern Kentucky